Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4: The curious case of Dabang Delhi
The most glorious thing about sport is its uncertainty and the way it possesses the capability of surprising or overwhelming us. When you look at any individual or team in a particular tournament, you predict their next performance on the basis of previous matches, standing and mentality among other things. However, there are certain teams, like Dabang Delhi in Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4, which throw all logic and sense out of the window.
Before the season had begun, there was a lot of positivity in the Dabang Delhi camp with the introduction of new coach Sagar Bandekar and the addition of players like D Suresh Kumar, Meraj Sheykh and Deepak Narwal. The coach, an extremely grounded fellow with years of kabaddi experience under his belt, was buoyant about Delhi’s chances of winning Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4 title.
However, the moment they started their campaign, it all seemed a bit like deja vu when they were able to win just one out their first five matches. It seemed as if it was the same product in new packaging and Delhi would not be able to get out of this rut because of the sheer psycholgical pressure. However, then came the match against Patna Pirates, a team that was producing the best kabaddi anyone had ever seen in the history of Pro Kabaddi.
Patna had won five out of five and came into the game against a team that was languishing at the foot of the table. Before the match, everyone had written Delhi’s obituary and thought that Pardeep Narwal and co. would steam roll over their hapless opponents from the national capital. No one, be it fan, expert or player, if they will be honest to their hearts, would have even remotely predicted anything close to the eventual outcome.
Eyebrows were raised when captain and talismanic raider Kashiling Adake was dropped from the line-up and was replaced by Iranian maverick Meraj Sheykh. The match resulted in a 33-15 annihilation but this time Dabang Delhi was not on the receiving end but the opposite. Coach Bandekar’s strategies worked like magic and Meraj delivered one of the performances of the season to lead his team from the front.
It was as if all that Delhi could do right in a day of kabaddi took place at the same time as Pata doing the exact opposite. Just to put things into perspective, it seemed as if Australian cricket team had won four ODIs in a row and then at MCG, they were handed a 50-run defeat by a side as poor as Bangladesh. The specifics of the analogy might be a little suspect but the idea is absolutely accurate.
The win over Patna forced everyone to think that Delhi were back in the running and they finally have their mojo back, especially with players like Meraj, Sachin Shingade and Sanket Chavan performing really well. But then came the next match against Telugu Titans and Delhi were effectively schooled by a terrific team featuring the likes of Rahul Chaudhari, Sandeep Dhull, Sandeep Narwal and Nilesh Salunke.
Delhi were handed a 5 point defeat, brought back to earth instantly and given a reality check, which suggested that the win over Patna Pirates might have been an aberration coinciding with the defending champions playing the worst kabaddi in their entire Pro Kabaddi history. A lot of minds, especially the cynical ones, were relieved that Delhi came back to normal and played in their usual style.
However, just when you thought Delhi’s performances could be predicted, they went ahead and gave Bengaluru Bulls yet another royal beating, this time by 20 points. Kashiling Adake exorcised all his demons and brought them on to a hapless Bengaluru Bulls side, which simply did not bring their game on the mat. Delhi’s star raider delivered a Super 10 and helped his team out in defence as well.
Now, if you look at things closely, even Bengal Warriors and Bengaluru Bulls have won matches in Pro Kabaddi 2016 Season 4 but they have not demolished opponents and look like sides that are actually struggling. Delhi, on the other hand, have seemed like the best team in the tournament at one point and the worst on rest of the occasions. If you look at Delhi’s form guide over the past five games, it reads like this – Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win.
No expert can possibly fathom or create a concrete representation of Dabang Delhi as a kabaddi outfit. The play like Barcelona in one match and then like Sunderland in another. They have top class players but they seem to be performing on an alternative basis and have taken upon them to confuse admirers and critics alike. You cannot help but be intrigued by this team, which is one of the most unique in the history of Pro Kabaddi.
Delhi still have their home leg to play in this season and if they can stay in the hunt by winning a couple of games before that, the Meraj Sheykh-led side has a great chance of making it to the top four. If history is anything to go by and looking at other teams in the tournament as well, it is unlikely that Dabang Delhi will be able to finish even in the top five.
However, the Dabang Delhi team is about as unpredictable as a fifth day wicket in Green Park, Kanpur. It is almost like you are playing a lottery or a roulette, the end result is always an uncertainty. So if you see Sagar Bandekar telling the media on 31st July that “I told you we will win the title,” do not be surprised and shocked because if any team can cause that kind of havoc, it is Benajmin Button; no, Dabang Delhi.